Do you find yourself slow and sluggish first thing in the morning? Do you scoff at the proverbial worm in favor of your cozy sheets? Unfortunately, not all of us rise with the sun, athletic gear at the ready. For those of you who need a little extra motivation and reasoning to roll out of bed and move, this article is for you.
Fact #1: Exercising on an empty stomach burns fat
First thing in the morning, before eating, the body’s stores of carbohydrates are empty. When you work out on an empty stomach, body fat is burned for energy instead of carbs. Research show that people who perform vigorous exercise on an empty stomach burn more fat than those who eat beforehand. To top it off, fasting before your workout allows your post-workout meal to be absorbed more efficiently.
Fact #2: You get an all-day metabolism boost
Want to burn extra calories with no extra effort? Who doesn’t! A vigorous morning workout gets your blood pumping and hormones flaring, elevating your metabolism for the rest of the day. That means you’re burning calories long after your workout is through.
Fact #3: It improves your mental clarity
During the four to 10 hours following a workout, studies show mental clarity and acuity increases, studies show. Get through your work day or your to-do checklist with a clear head and razor-sharp focus.
Fact #4: It helps regulate your personal clock
Sticking to a daily exercise schedule helps regulate your circadian rhythms, endocrine system and other important bodily functions. And by clocking your workout at the same time every day, your body knows to expect it. Eventually, you may even wake up naturally, and by go-time, your body is prepped for the workout hormonally.
Fact #5: Consistency is key
Committing to your morning workout makes it more likely that your planned workout will actually happen. Over the course of the day, things can come up and distractions can get in the way of even the best intentions. Squaring away this time for you first thing keeps you from losing motivation or putting it off until tomorrow. Plus, it’s habit-forming!
Fact #6: You eat more sensibly throughout the day
I don’t know about you, but many people admit they eat better all-day long after having exercised in the morning. Maybe mentally you just don’t want to ruin the good deed you did for your body, but there’s a physical reason as well: exercising releases feel-good endorphins, which actually decrease appetite and curb cravings.
Fact #7: You slumber more peacefully
We admit, it sounds counter-intuitive to opt for exercise instead of the snooze button. But an Appalachian State University study found participants who performed 30 minutes of aerobic activity at 7 a.m. spent more time in deep sleep the following night. Because exercise stimulates the body, people who work out at night often have trouble falling asleep or sleeping soundly.
Fact #8: There’s less competition
If you’ve ever had to compete for parking spaces and treadmills at 6 p.m., you understand this one— by working out early, you can avoid much of the traffic on the roads and in the gym! And if you run, walk or bike outdoors, fewer motorists means a safer experience on the pavement.
Bottom line: each individual is different. Do what works for you. If it still takes you until sundown for your night owl to howl, or if you are partial to squeezing in a workout on your lunch break, don’t stop! Whatever the time of day, exercise is good for the body and mind, and some is always better than none.
A previous version of this blog was initially posted on healthwaysfit.com.